Lines that blur

The thought of having to write another blog this morning was starting to wear on me.  It’s not that I don’t do a lot of stuff during the day to potentially write about, but to me it’s not noteworthy.  I’m sure that if someone were looking over my shoulder, there would be plenty of things they would see for me to write about, alas, I do not have someone standing over my shoulder (only a screen to show my work) and I haven’t had any feedback.  So what is left to write about?  My house.  Specifically how the work I do at my house has crept up into stuff I do at work, and vice versa.

Yesterday, David asked me to caulk the new sign (which looks fantastic).  Since we recycled the old sign by putting a new sign on top, David wanted to be sure that stuff wouldn’t get behind the attached section and get gross, causing the sign to deteriorate from within and all the great effort gone to waste.  I loved doing it since it gives me a mental break and I can work with my hands, which is, as I have previously mentioned, something that brings a little bit of grounding into my life.  What I found funny is that over the past few weeks while working on my house, most of what I have been doing is just that, caulking.  I try to re-use anything and everything from the house that was there before, not only because it’s cost effective, but because it is environmentally friendly, and it keeps the feel of the house intact.  The house was built in 1902, so I don’t want to get rid of any of the character of the house, just enhance it.  So when I pulled all the trim off the floor, it was to be replaced with the same trim unless the trim itself was in really bad shape.  Long story short, I needed a lot of caulk to make it look finished.  Years of paint and abuse, though taken care of the best I could, just sometimes couldn’t be erased, so I fixed with wood putty and caulk where I couldn’t.  Plus, I had to replace most of the quarter-round, and caulking the seams always makes that look nice.

This past weekend a little bit of work creeped in to the house.  When we first moved in to the new place here at DDA, I was one of the people that helped out with the networking – running wires, getting jacks set up so that all rooms had enough connections for those who would need them.  Not that I hadn’t done it before, but it was a refresher course in getting Cat-5 Ethernet jacks set up (and fun trying to figure out how to get the wires over and under the obstacles).  Over the weekend, I decided that my wireless connection was just not cutting it for me, so I ran down to the local Home Depot and got myself some wire, jacks and face-plates.  I found the perfect place for the first jack, traced out the space I needed to cut and started at it.  My mistake seemed to be the fact that I was using a crappy jigsaw to cut through the plaster and its supporting slats.   Not that I don’t have better tools, it was just that the jigsaw was right there, handy.  Three sides of the little cutout rectangle went really well, but then what started happening as I was making my last cut that the section around the cut was starting to shake and I couldn’t get through the wood that backs the plaster.  As I sat there pondering the situation, my vibrating jigsaw shook off a large chunk of plaster and splintered the final piece of wood.  So what would have taken me about 20 minutes had it been standard drywall, was now a weekend project.  The rest of the wall needed to be sanded and patched, it was all lumpy from handymen before who were not so handy, or just paid no attention to detail.  By Tuesday I could put a layer of primer on the wall, and last night I finally got the jack in and it actually looks great.  It was just a lot more work than I expected.  This weekend I get to tackle the same project in one of the rooms upstairs.  At least I already ran the cat-5 cable…..

Other than the obvious, how does this relate to programming at DDA?  The projects in my house seem to be like the custom programming we do here at DDA.  To our clients, and often those here at DDA who are not programmers, they see the project as simple, like I saw my Ethernet jack.  Cut a hole, install the jack and you’re done; 20 minutes tops.  Most of the time in our projects, what seems simple, like cutting the hole, is not so simple at all.  Many things go into the simple little hole, intense planning and precautions need to be taken to prevent that hole from getting too big or causing problems on the wall as a whole.  Sometimes we cannot predict what will happen, and we have to fix a lot of things after the fact.  In the end, though, it looks beautiful, smooth, and clean, unless you’re the one working it, you don’t know all the mess it took to complete.